Desperate Britain Forced To Import Russian Gas From Sanction-Targeted Project


Originally appeared at Zero Hedge

We said two days ago that it’s been a tough week for anybody who needs to heat their home or put gasoline in their cars in Britain. The litany of negative events and mishaps includes extremely low temperatures, the shutdown of the Forties pipeline due to a hairline crack and an explosion at one of the Europe’s biggest gas hubs in Austria, which further tightened UK supplies.

As we noted, the price of gas futures surged by the most in 8 years. The timing of the gas hub explosion, as we head into Winter, couldn’t have been worse either.

Desperate Britain Forced To Import Russian Gas From Sanction-Targeted Project

However, adding insult to injury, the UK lacks gas storage capacity and the web of interconnections that link markets across Continental Europe. And…Centrica is closing the nation’s biggest storage site after more than 30 years. The question was, where could the UK secure alternative supplies, as we noted.

It takes about two weeks to bring LNG from Qatar, the U.K.’s biggest supplier of the super-chilled fuel. Only one tanker, the Bu Samra, is confirmed as arriving in the U.K. this month. The first tanker from Russia’s Arctic plant Yamal LNG may also head to Britain and would arrive in about five days, according to shipping website sea-distances.

The photo below shows Russian President, Vladimir Putin, personally giving the order to begin loading the first export shipment of Yamal LNG onto the world’s first icebreaking LNG carrier, the Christophe de Margerie.

Desperate Britain Forced To Import Russian Gas From Sanction-Targeted Project

The destination of the LNG carrier was expected to be Asia, but will actually be Britain, even though the British government backed US sanctions against the project. Indeed, Novatek, which operates Yamal had to perform “financial gymnastics” after the US Treasury cut it off from western financing in 2014. To overcome this challenge, the company converted the funding of the $27bn project into euros and secured a $12bn loan from Chinese banks. As the Financial Times reports.

British homes are set to be heated over the new year with gas from a Russian project targeted by US sanctions, as the shutdown of a key North Sea pipeline slashes domestic output and sends utilities and traders scrambling for supplies. The first tanker of liquefied natural gas from the Yamal LNG project in Russia’s Arctic, which was opened by President Vladimir Putin last week, is making its way to the Isle of Grain import terminal in Kent as UK gas prices soar.

The shipment of the super-chilled cargo to the UK, which was originally expected to go to Asia, will be cheered in the Kremlin, where the Yamal LNG project has been held up as evidence that it can withstand western sanctions. Moscow has insisted that Europe will remain reliant on Russia for gas. The UK government has taken a tough line on Russian sanctions since Moscow first intervened in Ukraine nearly four years ago, and Theresa May, prime minister, has stepped up criticisms more recently, accusing Moscow of meddling in elections and attempting to “weaponise information” to undermine the west.

As the FT notes, it’s not unusual for the UK to import small volumes of Russian gas by pipelines through other European countries, however, the arrival of the Christophe de Margerie LNG tanker will be the first Russian delivery to arrive by ship. Neither the UK or EU sanctions specifically target Yamal LNG, although they have targeted finance and technology for other Russian energy projects in the wake of Russia’s annexing of Crimea in 2014. The FT quoted an unnamed official close to the Russian energy ministry saying that the UK’s decision to back US sanctions, including ones targeting Yamal LNG, looks like “someone biting the hand that feeds him”. So, given the embarrassing position the UK has found itself in, what is its response? According to the FT.

Britain’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which has argued that gas supplies will still be ample this winter because of the UK’s import capacity, emphasised that 80 per cent of the gas consumed in the UK is domestic or bought from Norway or Qatar. BEIS said that it was up to the market to decide what gas to import. The LNG cargo has been bought by the London-based trading arm of Malaysia’s Petronas, which did not respond to requests for comment. “Whether this liquefied natural gas shipment is eventually consumed in the UK is down to the market,” BEIS said. “But we can only benefit from having a diverse range of supplies.”

So, using a third party gives the UK leeway to say, essentially “It’s not me, Guv’nor”, to use the cockney vernacular.

The FT asked an analyst at the respected Wood Mackenzie consultancy for his opinion.

Frank Harris at Wood Mackenzie, an Edinburgh-based energy consultancy, said that the shipment demonstrated that the UK was now reliant on a market-based import model for its gas supplies. “There’s great flexibility in that model, but ultimately you’re competing with other countries on price for supplies,” Mr Harris said.

Having been loaded last Friday, the Christophe de Margerie is currently sailing past the northern coast of Norway. As commentators are pointing out, it could still be redirected if someone is willing to pay a higher price for its gas. The way the UK’s luck has gone recently, that’s probably a pretty good bet.

Desperate Britain Forced To Import Russian Gas From Sanction-Targeted Project



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  • Tudor Miron

    I always wondered how come in Russia with much colder winters than Germany and US (this two I have winter experience) houses are much better heated and much warmer inside :)

    • Solomon Krupacek

      because you fart more

    • BMWA1

      It is same in Czech Republic nice and toasty in winter, I suppose the Slavs in general just have higher human dignity when it comes to being warm at home or office.

    • testera

      It’s the carpets ;)

  • Suyanto Ng

    Seems May more scared get cold and freeze more than embarrasing, perhaps Putin should ask Santa to send sanctioned gas to Downing street.

  • Alex

    I i were Putin i would refuse imho.

    • testera

      If you were Putin you would not act on emotions but on reason ;)

      • Alex

        No emotions, just fun, not like brits would freeze to death but the look on their politician’s faces who constantly demonize us, would be priceless.

    • Solomon Krupacek

      haha, alex, the russian nazi. he wrote, in austria was zio terrorst action :DDD alex, little deb, at night repaired the station. it is in full oparation. this is not russia :P so, brits will not need extra russian gas. russia had 1-day-joy. :DDD

      • Alex

        Man, you really need to learn how to read, i said IF it was a manmade explosion, IF, not per definition, imho, learn to control you spastic reactions, the only nazi here is you, because your country joined the nazi germany in their attack on sovet union, don’t try to turn it around imho.
        British govmn’t are no darlings you cunt, imposing sanctions on us and targeting the ordinary people with those.

  • Carol Davidek-Waller

    Moscow did not intervene in Ukraine, the US did. The Crimean people overwhelmingly voted to rejoin Russia after the US sponsored vio!ent overthrow of the elected government of Ukraine and the Eastern provinces which are largely Russian, don’t want to be part of a country that out aws their language and makes war against them.

  • SnowCatzor

    “Theresa May, prime minister, has stepped up criticisms more recently, accusing Moscow of meddling in elections and attempting to “weaponise information” to undermine the west.”

    Man this horses**t really annoys me. They just can’t accept that people no longer back their neo-liberal worldview, so they constantly make-up allegations about ‘Russian Interference’ ™ to ease their butt-hurt. It’s pathetic.

    • Jim Prendergast

      Theresa May is history.

  • Jim Prendergast

    Yes the correction needs to be made. Russia at no time “annexed” Crimea and the current government in Kiev was installed by a U.S. funded coup d’etat. U.S. “sanctions” against Russia are the means by which the U.S. props-up it’s failing economy. For the U.S. sanctions are commodities.

  • FlorianGeyer

    I cannot remember such a miserable shower of politicians that Britain has now. They either live in a fantasy land with the USA or are totally corrupt, or even both.

    UK troops have been training terrorists in Syria.
    British troops have been involved with US Coalition troops in command centres to aid terrorists with Intelligence and Planning.
    MI6 has been paying White Helmet Terrorists.
    British weapons have been used by the Saudis to murder civilians in the Yemen.
    British advisers have been helping the Saudis plan attacks on Yemen.

    I feel ashamed to be British.

    • Mattias Dahlström

      Are they any better in Germany, France, Holland, Belgium? I am willing to bet a pint of good English ale the Swedish ones are even worse!

      • FlorianGeyer

        I agree. All of them are in denial of the ghastly reality that will I hope ,consume them all. Especially those who knew what they were doing.

    • testera

      Are you saying they were better while they were invading Iraq or Yugoslavia?

      • FlorianGeyer

        They were just as bad then I agree and I took part in demonstrations against those destructive wars that wee also fermented via the corrosive Zionist narrative of identity politics.